Removing Thyroid Due To Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 12, 2022

If you have thyroid cancer, you may be facing surgery. It’s the most common treatment, and it’s usually very successful.

Your surgery will depend on the kind of thyroid cancer you have.

A thyroidectomy is when all or part of the thyroid gland is removed.

A lobectomy is when one of the two lobes of your thyroid is removed.

If the cancer has spread, lymph nodes in the neck area may be taken out, as well.

Tissue around the thyroid gland may also be removed, depending on the size and location of the tumor.

Before Surgery

Before surgery, you’ll have lab and imaging tests. They help the doctor know as much as possible about the cancer. You may have other exams or tests to check your overall health.

You’ll be given instructions about what to eat and drink, and what medicines to take the day before your operation.

During Surgery

You’ll probably have general anesthesia during your surgery. This means you will sleep through the whole thing.

The doctor may make one or more incisions (cuts) in your neck, but that will depend on which type of surgery you have.

After Surgery

Thyroid surgery usually takes place without problems. You will have pain in the neck area, but medicine will help. You may also have a hoarse voice or sore throat for a few days. There may be a drain from the site of the incision. It helps with healing and will later be removed.

You’ll either stay overnight at the hospital, or go home the day of the surgery. Again, it depends on what type of operation you have and well you do. You’ll get instructions about how to take care of yourself after the operation, and when to see your doctor for follow-up. Other cancer treatments may begin soon after the operation.

If all of the thyroid gland is removed, your doctor will probably prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medicine to replace the thyroid hormones. You may need this medication the rest of your life, and the doctor will probably have to make a few changes along the way to make sure you get the right amount.

If only part of your thyroid was removed, you might not need the thyroid hormone replacement medicine.

Show Sources


American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology: “Medical/Surgical Guidelines for Clinical Practice: Management of Thyroid Carcinoma.”

American Thyroid Association: “Thyroid Cancer,” “Thyroid Surgery.”

American Cancer Society: “Thyroid Cancer.”

Mayo Clinic: “Tests & Procedures; Thyroidectomy.”

Medscape Drugs & Diseases: “Thyroidectomy.”

National Cancer Institute: “Thyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)-Health Professional Version,” “Thyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)-Patient Version.”

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: “Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines); Thyroid Carcinoma.”

Thyroid: “2015 American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Adult Patients with Thyroid Nodules,”American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Management of Patients with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer,” “Revised American Thyroid Association Guidelines for the Management of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.”

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